As we enter the summer season, gas prices begin to make a steady climb skyward and everyone is looking to pinch pennies at the pump. Luckily there are some fairly simple and inexpensive solutions to improving your fuel economy and saving money. Don’t leave home without these tips.
- Bad Habits = Bad MPG. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town. So the first step to better fuel economy is tot take a look in the mirror and really understand our driving habits. In the age of technology this is a lot easier than you think. A simple device can be plugged into your car and feed your phone data on how well you drive. You can use these stats to modify your habits effectively and perform mini experiments yourself.
- Maintenance = More Miles. Simple care maintenance can improve your fuel economy by making your engine run more smoothly. Changing your oil regularly and making sure your tires are properly inflated are simple rituals that can boost or maintain your MPG.
- Weight = Wasted Energy. Hauling cargo on your roof increases aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) and lowers fuel economy. A large, blunt roof-top cargo box, for example, can reduce fuel economy by around 2% to 8% in city driving, 6% to 17% on the highway, and 10% to 25% at Interstate speeds. Additionally traveling with excess weight in your vehicle makes your engine burn fuel faster thus degrading your fuel economy. A good solution is to either ditch whatever excess weight you’ve been carrying around, or buy rear-mount cargo boxes or trays, which can reduce fuel economy by much less (1% or 2% in city driving and 1% to 5% on the highway).
- Braking = Bad. Why speed up to a stoplight where you waste all of the energy it took to get up to speed? Every second you aren’t on the accelerator or the brake, you are saving money. If you look far down the road and anticipate when you will have to stop, you can manage your speed more efficiently and sometimes never even need to stop on your way to work. Make it a personal challenge by counting how many times you brake on your commute every day.
- Cruise Control = Costly. Cruise Control is great for flat straightaways with little traffic. But most of Americas roadways aren’t built that way. There are curves, hills, bumps, traffic jams, and all other manner of variables in your way. If you listen to what your engine does to maintain speed on a hill you will quickly realize you’ve been losing money every mile. Instead, drive your car like you ride a bike. Go slower up hills if you have to, but let off the accelerator to take advantage of downhill momentum to save gas.
- Planning = Paramount. Plan ahead and take the path of least resistance. That’s one with fewer stoplights, not as much traffic and, yes, lower speed limits. Even if you save 0.1 gallons of gas each day, you’ll save more than $130 per year.